by | May 23, 2024

By George Dixon

Rootless Cosmopolitans is an Australian dark, comedic play focusing on old yet current issues like identity, assimilation, generational differences, and nationalities. Mixed with corporate politics, betrayal, the power of social media, and the influence of the cancel culture.

Set in Australia, the play is based around a modern family that reflects on the Second World War and other more recent conflicts.

The universal appeal of this play provides a level of diversity that could be transposed and translated into any local language.

This play comes with a notice stipulating references to war and conflict, terrorism, genocide, and includes scenes depicting smoking, strong language, and adult themes.

The script is crisp, speckled with stereotypical humour, presenting reflections and meaningful insights. In some cases, letting go of the past is strongly associated with the fear of losing identity, while moving forward may also be considered as being disrespectful to the heritage.

One of the haunting questions is, “Is it possible to be too much……. “

The play runs at a good pace and flows easily between scenes. With a very talented and diverse cast, the characters come to life honestly and unembellished.

Anton Berezin, as Ira Brot (the main character), an aging artistic director of a failing theatre company, is struggling with his identity and the challenges of moving past the cultural norms of his heritage. The interactive dialogue with his departed mother effectively portrays modern life’s associated difficulties and tensions. Through his attempt to become more active, Ira responds to the current Middle East conflict on a social media rant, sparking a Woke Cancel Culture response.

Berezins’ personality and charm is outstanding. The honest portrayal of innocence is very appealing; you can feel the naivety yet depth of his searching and attempts to balance the old with the new.

Babs McMillan, who plays Freda Brot (Ira’s deceased mother), is an absolute delight; with deadpan expressions and typical cultural mannerisms, McMillan becomes the perfect sounding board and catalyst for many of the one-liners. Her presence and placement on stage are impressive and cleverly directed.

Seon Williams Georgia Park portrays the very typical millennial PA; her character ticks all the current social boxes, being a female, Asian, Savvy, and Gay; with her can-do proactive attitude, she is like a breath of fresh air, making a stark contrast between old and young. Her storyline throughout the play is interesting, as she is manipulated and enticed by advancement, which brings about what seems to be unforeseen consequences.

Emily Joy takes on a dual role, Glenda Brot and Viola Lansbury. The two characters are poles apart, requiring fast costume and wig changes. Viola, being the company’s chairperson, is a person of much higher economic standing. She is ruthless, uncaring and manipulative.

Glenda Brot, on the other hand, is Ira’s bubbly wife who, for some reason, is converting to this religion. Her desire to convert raises Iran’s questions of “Why.”

Joy’s ability to stand as a mannequin as Ira engages in the occasional comedic exchange with his mother is impressive. Her versatility in providing separate personalities, styles, and stances makes both characters believable.

Directed by Suzanne Heywood, Rootless Cosmopolitans is handled with balance and effective placement. This is Haywood’s fourth collaboration with playwright Ron Elisha.

Haywood’s ability to present a realistic and natural production is outstanding and well worth the trust given.

The audience’s response to all the elements within the play is 100% on point, which is a wonderful thing to experience. It encourages and lifts the cast and crew as they travel through a play, knowing that it is well received and working as anticipated.

Hats off to playwright Ron Elisha. Elisha’s authorship brings home the very serious topic of intolerance and cultural hate; using his subjective experiences, he opens the window to the many sides of the coin. With the application of dark humour, he brings comic relief, which at times is a reflective laugh at ourselves as we identify with the narrative.

Elisha is also not afraid to maintain the relevance of the content by adjusting the script to reflect whatever the current events are, something that is not missed by the audience.

The continued desire to maintain its up-to-date content can only enhance the production while keeping the content and message fresh.

Well done to all the cast and crew; Rootless Cosmopolitans certainly ticks all the right boxes.

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